Violent crime in Kansas increased in 2017, according to a new report released by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, and the number of murders was the highest of any year in Kansas dating back to 1959, the year the FBI began keeping statistics on each state's crime rates.
There were 176 murders in Kansas in 2017. Murders were 40.8 percent above the state's 10-year average, and up from 148 the previous year.
Violent crimes overall, including murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault and battery, increased by 23.1 percent in the past three years. Last year was 12.3 percent more violent than the 10-year average.
The 2017 Kansas Crime Index is prepared by the Kansas Incident Based Reporting Unit of the KBI each year and includes crime data for the state. Local law enforcement agencies across Kansas submit their own statistics, which are dependent on victims reporting crimes, a press release about the report said.
In Wichita, violent crimes decreased from 2016 to 2017, but the number of murders in the state's largest city increased. Wichita police reported 35 murders in 2017, up from 32 in 2016 and a 10-year low of 16 in 2013.
Wichita police reported the second-most murders (35) of any city in the state, behind Kansas City, Kansas (41). Topeka police reported the third-most murders with 27.
There were 38 murders in Sedgwick County last year. In 2010, there were 17. Wyandotte County had the most murders, at 41.
Causes for increased murders are difficult to pinpoint, the report says, because 21 percent were reported by police as unknown circumstances and 21.7 percent said the suspect was unknown.
Domestic violence murders accounted for 22.3 percent of murders in Kansas last year. More than 11 percent of murders in Kansas were reported as gang-related. Drugs were a factor in 10.9 percent of cases.